HC rejects plea against dissolution of Maulana Azad Education Foundation

The Bench took into account that the meeting of the general body of the MAEF in November 2022 detected ‘significant irregularities’ in the operations of the foundation

April 17, 2024 05:20 am | Updated 05:20 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld the Centre’s decision to dissolve the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF), which was set up in 1989 for promoting education among educationally backward minorities.

The MAEF was created by the Central Waqf Council (CWC), which was an advisory body to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna took into account the fact that the meeting of the general body of the MAEF in November 2022 detected “significant irregularities” in the operations of the foundation.

After a thorough audit of the foundation’s financial records revealed “conspicuous financial discrepancies”, the CWC approached the Ministry of Minority Affairs, advocating for the dissolution of the MAEF “due to its stark inability to fulfil its designated responsibilities”.

In January, 2024, the CWC proposed the closure of the MAEF and sent a proposal to the Ministry. Acting on it, on February 7, 2024, the Ministry communicated the approval of the competent authority for closure of the MAEF.

This decision was challenged by Syeda Saiyidain Hameda who argued that MAEF was established as an Autonomous Society under the Societies Registration Act, and could not act at the dictates of the Union of India.

The petition quoted publicly available data to argued that the MAEF, between 2003-04 and 2021-22, had sanctioned 12,88,954 scholarships to girls belonging to educationally backward minorities amounting to ₹884.87 crores.

The plea said the MAEF had provided infrastructural support (building grant) in as many as 1,636 projects amounting to ₹221 crores since 1994-1995.

It said while the budgetary allocation of the MAEF had been slashed, the Ministry had continued to maintain that the MAEF had sufficient funds from interest earned on its corpus to meet its requirements for promoting education for educationally backward minority students.

The Centre had defended its decision, saying the MAEF had become “obsolete” when there was a dedicated Ministry holistically executing schemes for the benefit of the minorities.

“Thus, it is seen that the decision to dissolve the MAEF is a well considered decision, duly taken by the General Body of the MAEF in terms of the authority vested in it by way of the Bye Laws of the MAEF and as per the provisions of the (Societies Registration) Act,” the High Court said while dismissing the petition.

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